Sunday, July 19, 2009

Conservative Imagery Alert: Blind Pig who want to Fly

[This is not a film review. I did not have to time or resources to do one for this film, although someone else better.]
I recommend to everybody an Indonesian film called Blind Pig who wants to Fly ( Indonesia, 2008). The film contains numerous examples of clean, direct, traditional imagery such as:
-The opening shot. Two women are playing badminton. The camera is positioned behind the woman who we will follow on-and-off throughout the film, a Chinese minority woman in Indonesia. She is returning every shot of her opponent. The shot is in slow motion. Cut to a shot of the badminton ball soaring back and forth over the net. A voice off camera asks 'Which one is Indonesian?'
- A pig standing in the middle of a grassy, hilly landscape. He wants to get across a thin rope line that is stretched taught before him; we do not see where it is tied. The pig barely moves, but continues to grunt. 
- A girl demonstrating how she can swallow a firecracker. She puts it in a bread-roll, sticks it in her mouth and lights it. Camera rests calmly on her equally blank expression as the flame sizzles down to the exploding point. Cut to black when the explosion comes. 
These are all bizarre images layered with significance relating to the struggles of the chinese minority in Indonesia. Also to be commended, though, are the way this film cuts; from a man looking in to the mirror preparing to make an incision above his eye to the singular sun, blaring like a gigantic eye. It is the type of film in which it's imagery becomes more fun and peculiar after the fact, when mulled over in our heads. 
Blind Pig is structured in sketches preceded by titles (such as the title of the film), though it eventually plays loose with this device. It revolves around three or four characters, mainly, though even this it plays loose with. There is something about it's looseness that can be criticized and something elusive about the culture we are witnessing that is hard to grasp unless the problems arising with the chinese after Indonesia gained sovereignty in the 1940's is explained. But the quietness and conservatism of it's imagery are to be admired.
The film was screened at the Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn recently, as part of the Rooftop Films series. The director, who simply calls himself Edwin, was present, and did a question and answer session following the screening. It is doubtful that this film will be coming to 'a theater near you' anytime soon; we have no choice but to consider it an oddity-- and it is odd by any standard-- that you will have to catch at a film festival.